Oculus Rift 2: New report says ‘Rift S’ could be a pretty modest update

Oculus Rift 2: Will an Oculus Rift sequel aimed at PC VR users ever come to fruition? Here’s the latest on the Rift 2, including rumoured features and release date.

The prospect of an Oculus Rift 2, a direct sequel to the original headset, was thrown into doubt by the departure of Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe in mid-October 2018.

Some reports claimed the departure was the result of the cancellation of the Rift 2, as Facebook focused on the growth of mainstream VR rather than on high-end experiences to push the medium’s potential.

Rift 2 cancelled? That was the first we’d heard of it. As recently as Oculus Connect 5 developer conference in late September, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was on record talking about “the next version of Rift.” Prior to that, the “Half Dome” prototype with varifocal displays and a 140-degree field of view was previewed by Facebook at its F8 developer convince in May 2018.

Related: Oculus Rift review

So what gives? Well, it appears reports of the Rift 2’s demise – in light of the Oculus Go and the forthcoming standalone Quest headset – may have off base. Facebook quickly sought to shoot down the report on October 22 and has since provided Trusted Reviews with a statement on its plans for the Rift 2.

In the statement, a Facebook spokesperson said while the company isn’t ready to unveil its plans for the Rift 2, it is definitely still happening. The company said there’ll be more news on the product in 2019.

It reads: “We are planning a future version of Rift. You may remember Mark [Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg] saying this at OC5: “… when we release the next version of Rift — which isn’t this year — all of the content that works for Rift will also work on the next version.” So while we aren’t quite ready to talk about the next version of Rift, PC VR is still a category we are investing in.

“It’s still a part of our strategy – we’re continuing work across product and content and you’ll see this manifest next year. Additionally, Nate [Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell] continues to lead the Rift/PC team and there are no changes there.”

There are two possibilities here: The first is that the Rift is going ahead as planned with a true successor that pushes the envelope for high-end VR. The other scenario, and perhaps the most likely, is that the true Rift 2 has been scrapped in favour a less expansive update. That might also explain Iribe’s reported reason for fleeing Facebook.

Related: Best Oculus Rift games

Oculus ‘Rift S’ tipped as modest update to original

TechCrunch, which initially reported the Rift 2 had been “cancelled” is standing by its story, as of October 31. A new report says the Rift 2 would have been a “complete redesign” codenamed “Caspar”. That’s no more, the sources say, with Facebook now planning more of a refinement to the original Rift.

The new model might even be called the “Rift S” according to the report, and we know from covering iPhones forever, that adding the letter S, generally means an iterative update rather than a great shake up.

The key change, according to the report could be the addition of the Insight “inside-out” tracking system, which is central to the functionality of the forthcoming standalone Oculus Quest headset. That would replace the “Constellation” tracking system on the original Rift. Worryingly, the report points out:

“While the Insight system would likely offer users a much more simplified setup process, a clear pain point of the first-generation product, “inside-out” tracking systems have greater limitations when it comes to the lighting conditions they work in and are generally less accurate than systems with external trackers.”

Elsewhere we could see higher resolution lenses on the next Rift headset, the report says.

Oculus Rift 2 features

So far there’s been plenty to help us piece together what an Oculus Rift 2 headset might look like. We can rest assured the system will require a relatively powerful PC in order to handle the high-end VR workload, while a machine running Windows 10 is also likely to be a staple.

Many VR fans will hope the Rift 2 will free them from cables with a wireless headset or an adapter acting as a go-between for the Rift and the accompanying PC. We can also expect next generation processors powering the experience.

The Half Dome prototype showcased in May previewed potential new features like a wider 140-degree field of view, moving varifocal displays, as well as hand and eye tracking.

It appears the Rift 2 could also benefit from advanced hand and even finger tracking in the virtual reality environment. Last year in a Facebook post, Zuckerberg revealed new gloves were in testing that would enable users to type on a virtual keyboard or shoot webs like Spider-Man.

He wrote: “We’re working on new ways to bring your hands in virtual and augmented reality. Wearing these gloves, you can draw, type on a virtual keyboard, and even shoot webs like Spider Man. That’s what I’m doing here.”

The next-gen Rift could also benefit from eye-tracking technology, meaning users would no longer have to physically turn their head in order to explore a VR space.

Oculus Rift 2 price and release date

Facebook says there are plans to update users on the PC VR strategy next year. It’s unclear whether that will see the launch and release of the second-generation Rift. In terms of price, we’d hope the company doesn’t raise the cost much beyond the current $399/£399 it costs to grab the headset.

Do you think there’ll be an Oculus Rift 2? Drop us a line @TrustedReviews on Twitter.